Aggressive defense leads Bulldogs to victory
FRESNO, Calif. – Four Bulldogs scored in double figures and Ki-Ki Moore led the way with 27 points against her former team to lift the Fresno State women’s basketball team past Washington State 82-59 Friday night at the Save Mart Center.
Two nights after shooting just 29.9 percent in a loss at Pacific, Fresno State (3-2) rebounded and shot extremely well on Friday, connecting on 51.6 percent of its shots. The Bulldogs entered the contest having shot 9-for-46 from 3-point land in their last two games, but the ‘Dogs were hot from behind the arch against the Cougars (2-5) and drained eight treys.
“I thought they were smarter three’s,” head coach Raegan Pebley said of the 3-pointers her team was taking against Washington State’s zone defense. “We showed more patience offensively and getting people in the right position at the right time. I was much happier with the shot selection we had.”
It wasn’t the hot shooting that got the Bulldogs off and running, however. Washington State opened the game on an 11-0 run behind three 3-pointers before Fresno State employed a full-court press. The ‘Dogs’ pressure got to the Cougars and turned the game around.
“We knew that if we all committed to an identity, it would result in good things for us,” Pebley said. “I felt like defensively we really showed a lot of aggressiveness and willingness to trust each other.”
Fresno State scored 32 points off 20 turnovers in the game and posted 15 steals on the night.
Moore nearly wasn’t able to play in the game against her former team, whom she averaged 12 points a game for as a freshman in 2009-10 before transferring to Fresno State. She overcame illness on Friday to get her 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting with six rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a gutsy performance. “She was really sick. I had a different starting lineup ready and I was told she wasn’t going to play,” Pebley said. “She showed a lot of commitment to her teammates and just mental toughness trying to fight for them.”
Sophomore Alex Sheedy matched her career-high with 16 points and she had a game-high eight rebounds on the night. Guard Robin Draper had the best game of her career coming off the bench for a career-high 13 points in 28 minutes. She was the spark that got Fresno State to overcome its slow start.
“Robin played really smart within her role and that provided really good productivity,” Pebley said. “She’s been doing things right in practice and this was a great opportunity and she took advantage of it. Her team needed her.”
Trailing 17-3 six minutes into the game, Draper’s three-pointer sparked the ‘Dogs to an 11-0 run to get the Bulldogs back in the game. After her three, Fresno State stole the ball from the Cougars on four-straight possessions as part of that 11-0 run.
Then in the second half, Fresno State came out of the break and went on a 15-4 run in the first five minutes to take a 46-39 lead. Sheedy had seven of Fresno State’s 15 points in that time and hit one of three Bulldog treys during the run.
Sheedy’s free-throw at 12:16 started a 13-4 run over the next five minutes that helped Fresno State pull out to a 19-point lead and the ‘Dogs never looked back from there.
Bree Farley added 12 points in the win and guard Taylor Thompson had six assists and five steals.
Washington State shot 40 percent and was led by Brandi Thomas, who had 11 points.